How Has Lean Manufacturing Influenced The Service Industries?

2306 words - 10 pages

In today’s ever changing market place, reaching a high level of customer satisfaction is shown more and more difficult; for service industries it has shown to be even more challenging to achieve low costs and greater efficiency. Throughout the academic literature I will broadly introduce the key principles of lean manufacturing, and its processes, using USA Vacuum as a quick example to illustrate how lean processes significantly reduced their costs and maximised their efficiency. Moreover, the paper will discuss some of the problems faced when installing an operational change, followed by suggested measures with backed literature. To address the question it was necessary to select companies that have been influenced by lean, and have applied some of its processes into their service operations. Firstly, looking at an American fast-food restaurant Taco Bell, and secondly, A Canadian Hospital’s Emergency Department. Both companies note to having a lack of efficiency in their operations. Furthermore, we will be looking at how lean manufacturing truly influenced the service industries in terms of its processes, and moreover, its outcomes. Lastly, the paper will conclude the implications of lean manufacturing, and that it relies heavily on the input of involvement from everyone.
Lean manufacturing is commonly believed to have started in Japan, its key principles are to reduce all waste by eliminating such activities that do not add any value, maintaining this principle throughout the supply chain, creating multiple flows of products, by producing to demand rather than supply, and by emphasising quality (Lee and Olson et al., 2008, pp. 973--987). Toyota became the largest car manufacturer in the world in great part helped by the application of lean concepts to its business, thus also playing a huge role in the successes of other manufacturing firms globally. The processes include just-in-time production, quality systems, kaizen projects (involving all members of staff), value-stream mapping, standardized work, and cellular manufacturing (Shah and Ward, 2003, pp. 129--149). These processes can then work in synergy to create a continuous flow of products at a pace of customer demand.
To quickly illustrate, Fargher Jr and Enterprise et al. (2007) established that USA Vacuum set up kaizen workshops that focused on improving workstation designs. Kaizen workshops are projects involving all employees of the organisation, who gather to make small changes and continuous improvement (Radnor and Osborne, 2013, pp. 265--287). The involvement of all employees would allow managers to obtain information with regards to, ‘how can we do it faster?’, ‘what do you spend most of your time doing?’, ‘do you have to wait for parts?’etc. These helped to dis cover where the inefficiencies lay and where the time was spent other than the product assembly. As a result, feedback from regular team meetings allowed two new production lines to be installed which were designed to...

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